All posts by Michael Patrick McCarty

Game Laws Gone Bad – This Could Happen To You!

Love him, or not, old news or not, can the prosecution and subsequent guilty plea of Ted Nugent for illegally taking a bear in Alaska in 2009 be considered fair, or just? Looking back, has anything changed, for the better, or worse, as a result of that fact?

Watch this video, in Ted Nugent’s own words, and you be the judge.

I, for one, say absolutely, not…I would also add that it’s not only about Ted. It’s about you, and us, and outdoorsmen everywhere. In the end, it is an underhanded backdoor attack on personal liberty and the fulfillment of our hunting heritage by an unelected and vindictive administrative state.

Shame on them!

How would you feel if this had happened to you on your long dreamed of, and expensive, hunting trip? Are you prepared to punch your tag and go home, should your arrow cut the hair of a bear – a hit that obviously has done no mortal or permanent damage? *Would you think it equitable to lose your hunting privileges in the United States and Canada for a number of years because you continued to hunt out your trip.

It’s certainly getting to the point where one must consider long and hard before ever loosing a shaft, or sending a well aimed bullet downrange. Obviously, that has always been the case if you are a thoughtful and ethical hunter. Yet, the consequences of a poor hit on a game animal are more serious than ever.

Could a law as illogical and dangerous as this come to my state of Colorado, for example, or the state in which you live?

Perhaps it already has. If you doubt that, you might want to take a long look at the regulations associated with the legal constructs of “Failure To Pursue”, “Dead-head and Shed Hunting Laws”, “Illegal Possession of a Big Game Animal”, and “Donation of Game Meat”, to name just a few. I can assure you that it will be an eye opening experience.

You might also ask yourself when the agencies of power, and the people within them, initially wrote, or rewrote, the laws in question. Do they really work in the field, in the real world…our hunter’s world? I am a biologist who has bowhunted for fifty years, and no lawmaker ever asked me for my opinion. And apparently I did not get the memo on the true meanings of the updated regulations, either. You?

And while we are at it, have you ever considered the subject of who really owns the wildlife of the realms? It would seem such an easy question to answer, particularly if you are a private land owner. Again, I can assure you that the answer may surprise you, though that is a topic for another time.

So, be careful out there! Know that your actions can and will always be scrutinized, for better or worse, by yourself, the hunting community, the non-hunting public, and the courts.

And don’t forget to study the latest round of game law regulations, no matter how voluminous, or confusing, they may be…

I have recently been accused of “beating a dead horse with a dead camel” for revisiting the trouble with Ted. Maybe that’s true, but this type of insufferable, bureaucratic harassment is an issue that is very much alive for me.

Because I hunt. A lot…and I would like to continue to do so until I can hunt no more. It would be nice to do so without constant threat of fine and penalty for violating some new, obscure, and poorly written regulation that has no grounding in common sense or sound wildlife management.

One thing is also clear. It’s also about time to stand up and be counted, as my pioneering, bowhunting father used to say. I can still hear him now – everyday!

I know that Ted Nugent would agree.

 

 

Has anything like this, happened to you?

Posted By Michael Patrick McCarty

 

*The Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact (IWVC) is a United States interstate compact (an agreement among participating states) to provide reciprocal sharing of information regarding sportsman fishing, hunting, and trapping violations and allows for recognition of suspension or revocation of hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses and permits in other member states resulting from violations concerning hunting, fishing and trapping laws in order to prevent poaching across state lines.

Illegal activities in one state can thus affect a person’s hunting or fishing privileges in all member states. The IWVC obligates members to report wildlife violation convictions to Compact members, gives the members the capability to honor each other’s suspensions, and provides the method to exchange violator data between member states. A conviction in one Compact member state may cause them to be barred from participating in hunting, fishing, and trapping in all member states, at the discretion of each state.

Ted Nugent’s statement about his illegal bear hunt in Alaska

Published April 25, 2012

Below is Ted Nugent’s full statement regarding his guilty plea on Tuesday in Alaska of illegally killing a bear. It’s entitled “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.”

“Not a day goes by where an American outdoorsmen doesn’t confide in me that due to the increasingly complex, illogical hunting and fishing regulations across the nation, that it would not surprise them that they have unintentionally violated a game law at some point in time. Other outdoorsmen routinely express their frustration about regulations that serve no purpose and cannot possibly be explained in terms of wildlife management.

“America is increasingly drowning in just such strange, goofy regulations and requirements. As logic crusader John Stossel recently exposed, our federal government releases roughly 80,000 pages of new regulations each year, confusing, ambiguous, weird illogical regulations that serve no meaningful purpose other than to feebly attempt to justify bureaucracies already off the rails. It’s way past bizarre.

“The ‘you don’t need to read it, you just need to sign it’ health care bill argued before the Supreme Court was almost 2,000 pages long of extraordinarily complex rules and regulations. Sarcastically, Supreme Court Justice Scalia stated that reading the bill was a violation of the 8th Amendment’s (protection against) cruel and unusual punishment clause.

“Regrettably, state hunting regulations have also been ravaged by the over-regulation beast. In Alaska, the hunting regulation book is 128 pages long. Alaska trapping regulation is 48 pages.

“Alaska is not alone. Numerous other states have seen incredible expansion of their hunting regulations over the past few decades. In Texas, the summary of hunting and fishing regulations is 85 pages. The hunting regulations in California are roughly 140 pages long.

“Even with an increasing mountain of often confusing and complex hunting and fishing regulations to abide by, sportsmen have a legal and ethical obligation to know and abide by these regulations, no matter how goofy they may be. I have said this for decades and will continue to do so as we fight to make them sensible.

“I have hunted in Alaska for almost 40 years. It is a spectacular, beautiful place that offers incredible big and small game hunting cherished by sporters from around the globe.

“In 2009, I returned again with my sons to Alaska to hunt black bear. What I was unaware of is that the specific region where I hunted had a new and unprecedented requirement that a bear hunting tag was considered to be “filled” even with a non-lethal hit on the animal. For sixty years, every “tag” regulation in every state and Canadian province has declared that you tag the animal upon taking possession of the animal.

“The first arrow I shot on that hunt was obviously a non-lethal shot where the arrow literally glanced off the animal’s rib, as seen clearly on stop action video. The bear leapt, stopped, looked around, and slowly ambled off, confused but unhurt by the disruption. After diligent effort by my son and I, we were convinced that this bear was alive and well. We then continued our hunt and ultimately killed a beautiful black bear.

“I filmed the entire hunt including the first non-lethal arrow and put it on my television program Spirit of the Wild on Outdoor Channel for tens of millions of viewers to witness. Airing the hunt on television proves beyond all doubt that I had no willful intention to violate any hunting regulation.

“Was I negligent in not knowing the Alaska bear hunting rule for the specific region I hunted that year? Absolutely. For my negligence, I have been charged with a violation and I plead guilty. To the best of my knowledge, I am the only person ever charged with violating this new, unheard of law. Lifetime AK hunters, guides, outfitters, even the resident judge at my hearing were unaware of such an unprecedented regulation.

“While I disagree with Alaska’s requirement that a tag is considered to be “filled” even on a non-lethal hit, that was the requirement at the time of my hunt. Had I known of that requirement, I would not have hunted that region because I fundamentally disagree with it, and I certainly would not have hunted another bear.

“I have promoted the grand, honorable hunting lifestyle all of my life and will continue to do so. Hunting, fishing and trapping are the epitome of true conservation.

“What I also pledge to American outdoorsmen is to work to repeal onerous, unscientific, counterproductive rules and regulations that make no sense such as the seven states where hunting is banned on Sunday, making 50% of the season illegal for the average hunting families in those states. Idiotic laws such as these are a hindrance to real conservation and the critical need for recruiting new hunters. Such arbitrary laws serve no scientific purpose that benefits the management of wildlife value whatsoever.

“The outdoor lifestyle cannot be preserved for future generations of sportsmen by constructing such a labyrinth of confusing, unscientific and oftentimes counterproductive regulations and rules. Reversing this trend is my focus.

“While I have never intentionally violated a hunting regulation, ignorance of the law is no excuse, and I am truly sorry, and have paid dearly. There is even less of an excuse for ignorant laws.”

Ted Nugent

 

“One final paragraph of advice: Do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am –a reluctant enthusiast…a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still there. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizz, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much: I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound  people with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this: you will outlive the bastards”. Edward Abbey

 

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Hunters Stand United At Hunter Nation

*I recently became a member of Hunter Nation, and just received this welcome letter in my inbox. Like many things, it’s all about the message, and I could not agree more with the sentiments expressed so passionately to us all.

I thought that you might like to read it too:

Messages from Mark

Mark DeYoung, Hunter Nation CEO

Hunter-Nation_Logo_246x150

Support of All Legal Hunting Methods

October 2019

Hunter Nation supports all hunting and all methods of legally harvesting game.  At a time when hunting is misunderstood and under attack around the world, we as hunters cannot continue to fight amongst ourselves.  Hunters are a proud and usually self-reliant set of individuals.  Some of us enjoy bow hunting, others long-range hunting, some prefer the challenges of a muzzleloader, while others are all about shotguns.  Some hunt whitetail deer, some hunt elk, and still others are driven by the quest for mule deer or a variety of wild sheep species.  Then there are the bird hunters who pursue turkey, pheasants, waterfowl, quail, dove and more. All too often these different pursuits are compared to each other in a kind of competition about the difficulty or which hunt takes more skill.  Does it really matter what our game of choice is or how we hunt?  Isn’t it much more important that we all come together as a united band of hunters dedicated to protecting and preserving our right to hunt?  Shouldn’t ALL hunters stand as one and support each other in defending ALL legal and ethical hunting?

Our national hunting community is also divided into organizations dedicated to a species, a region, a method of hunting, etc. These self-imposed divisions can weaken our overall influence and the strength of our voice as hunters. Various conservation and hunting organizations are important, and they are focused on doing good work for their constituents and the species they are focused on supporting. Hunter Nation applauds their efforts, accomplishments, and commitments. Hunter Nation also realizes that unless hunters and conservation organizations come together and form a broad coalition we risk being overwhelmed by the powerful and well-funded anti-hunting community. Hunter numbers continue to decline, and hunting continues to suffer from attacks by the more organized and more influential animal rights and environmental groups. Sadly, we even have hunting groups that fight against proven conservation techniques, multi-use public lands, and traditional hunting methods.

Here at Hunter Nation, we are committed to helping create a more influential and powerful voice for all hunters.  We appreciate and value the traditional hunting heritage of this great nation and believe that action is required NOW to ensure hunting’s future.  We are working to support the delisting of wolves and return all predator management decisions to state agencies who are best able to manage their herds and flocks.  We are working to educate hunters and legislators across the country on the benefits of hunting as a key conservation tool.  We are working to form partnerships and build coalitions to enhance the influence of hunters in both state and national level legislative processes.

We encourage you to get engaged in hunting-related issues, speak up for hunting and our traditional way of life, and get educated on the threats and opportunities facing hunting and hunters.  Hunters must stand united and proud in our commitment to God, Family, Country, Conservation and Hunting.

As you enter the woods, plains, and wetlands in pursuit of game this fall we wish you safety, luck and success, whether that means harvesting an animal or just enjoy the hunt with friends and family.

Thank you for being a member of Hunter Nation. Together we can win the fight to preserve and protect our hunting heritage.

Mark-DeYoung-Signature

Mark W. DeYoung

Hunters are America’s Conservationists.

Support Hunter Nation Today!

Posted By Michael Patrick McCarty

Rocky Mountain Yard Art – With Antlers…

‘Tis The Season…

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and sometimes you can view a glimpse of it in the form of a big mule deer buck – in the backyard.

A Trophy Class Mule Deer Buck Poses On The Lawn Of A Suburban Neighborhood, Next To A Raised Flower Bed, With Pumpkins Left Over From Halloween. Photography By Michael Patrick McCarty

Pass The Pumpkin Please!

 

Photograph by Michael Patrick McCarty

 

“Like winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them. Now we face the question whether a still higher “standard of living” is worth its cost in things natural, wild and free. For us of the minority, the opportunity to see geese is more important than television, and the chance to find a pasque-flower is a right as inalienable as free speech”. – Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

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To Scoff At Archers, And Storm

“If they keep exposing you to education, you might even realize some day that man becomes immortal only in what he writes on paper, or hacks into rock, or slabbers onto a canvas, or pulls out of a piano”. – Robert Ruark

 

Sculpture of Native American Shooting Arrow Into The Sky. Titled "Sacred Rain Arrow" by Allan Houser. Poem By Charles Baudelaire
Fire in the Sky

“The Poet is the kinsman in the clouds, who scoffs at archers, loves a stormy day;

But on the ground, among the hooting crowds, he cannot walk, his wings are in the way.”

-Charles Baudelaire

 

Posted By Michael Patrick McCarty

Trout Unlimited Sues EPA Over Removal Of Bristol Bay Protections

A Fine Stringer Of Sockeye Salmon, Caught While Raft Fishing In Alaska.

A Fine Catch Of Sockeye Salmon

 

Sportsmen argue EPA ignored sound science, prioritized advancement of Pebble mine over fishing industry.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: 

Chris Wood, Trout Unlimited CEO, (571) 274-0601

Nelli Williams, Trout Unlimited Alaska program director, (907) 230-7121

ANCHORAGE, AK – Trout Unlimited, represented pro bono by Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP, filed a lawsuit today against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its recent decision to withdraw protections for the Bristol Bay region of Alaska. Called the Bristol Bay Proposed Determination, the protections would have limited the scope and scale of impacts from the proposed Pebble mine to the world-class salmon, trout and water resources of the region.

“The practical effect of the EPA’s decision was to help out a mine that would devastate a fishing and hunting paradise,” said John Holman, who grew up in the area and is a second-generation owner of No See Um Lodge, a Trout Unlimited member business. “I cannot in good faith pass a business down to my family that will become a financial burden if the Pebble mine is built. Who does our government work for? This decision made it seem like the EPA and our elected officials are writing off thousands of American jobs, and businesses like mine so a foreign mining company can obliterate the land I depend on, then walk away.”

Trout Unlimited’s lawsuit alleges the EPA ignored science and the potential impacts of developing the mine when it withdrew the Bristol Bay Proposed Determination, and in doing so violated the Administrative Procedures Act and Clean Water Act. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cannot issue a permit to Pebble if the EPA’s decision on the Bristol Bay Proposed Determination is overturned.

“Billions of dollars have been spent in attempt to restore salmon runs in the Pacific Northwest. Meanwhile, Bristol Bay sets records for its salmon returns year after year. All we need to do is have the humility and common-sense to leave this landscape alone,” said Chris Wood, CEO of Trout Unlimited. “Sacrificing a place as such as Bristol Bay for some gold is a short-sighted fools-errand. We are not a litigious organization, but we and millions of other sportsmen and women will not allow greed to compromise the most important salmon fishery on the planet.”

The Bristol Bay region of southwest Alaska supports the world’s most abundant sockeye salmon run, Alaska’s best Chinook salmon run, and a world-famous trophy rainbow trout fishery. These fisheries are the foundation for a robust sportfishing industry, a rich cultural history and subsistence way of life supporting more than 30 Alaska Native Tribes, and a valuable commercial fishing industry. Bristol Bay fishing—including sport, commercial and subsistence—accounts for thousands of sustainable local jobs and more than $1.5 billion in annual economic activity.

Citing this unique and wild character, and the economic and cultural importance of the region, the EPA prepared the Bristol Bay Proposed Determination after years of scientific research and multiple peer reviews, with many thousands of Alaskans and millions of Americans voicing support for protecting the region.

“Any action that jeopardizes this fishery and extremely unique place is unacceptable,” said Nelli Williams, Alaska director for Trout Unlimited. “The proposed Pebble mine is widely opposed by anglers and hunters across Alaska and the country. This lawsuit is a step to hold the EPA accountable to their own science and American sportsmen and women, not a foreign-owned mining company.”

“Look at what’s at stake and the maddening progress Pebble is making here at our expense,” said Nanci Morris Lyon, local resident and owner of Bear Trail Lodge, a Trout Unlimited member business. “Contrary to science, the will of the people, and common sense, Pebble is advancing toward their key permit, thanks in part to agencies giving them handouts. This lawsuit calls that out. We can’t afford Pebble in Bristol Bay, and that means we need science, oversight, integrity and persistence.”

“Removing the Proposed Determination was one of the most poorly justified decisions in the history of the Clean Water Act and is an affront to the fisheries, local communities, and sportsmen and women around the world,” said Wood.

 

Trout Unlimited is the nation’s oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America’s trout and salmon and their watersheds. In Alaska we have worked in the Bristol Bay region for almost two decades along with thousands of members and supporters including dozens of businesses that depend on the fishery of the region. Follow TU on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram and our blog for all the latest information on trout and salmon conservation. For more information on the Save Bristol Bay campaign go to SaveBristolBay.org

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Posted By Michael Patrick McCarty

Ted Nugent: Demand Common-Sense Hunting Reform

Major overhaul of state, federal hunting regulations to simplify rules to address safety and wildlife management is essential…Hunting and fishing regulations should be as simple as possible, Nugent writes.

Recruit, retain, reactivate is known as the 3R battle cry for the future of conservation in America. With the tragic (and what I believe to be the self-inflicted) decline in hunter numbers across the country over the years, if those of us who truly cherish this extraordinary American conservation heritage and vital lifestyle fail to step up and get cracking to reverse this scourge like we mean it, believe me when I tell you, all is lost.

We know all about the dramatic change in the geographical population drift from rural to urban. We all know about the intentional dumbing-down of America by left-wing dingbats in academia, media, Hollywood and government to deny the necessity of annual hunting season harvests.

It is painfully apparent that certain technological advances in the world have attracted more and more sedentary homebodies to avoid the great outdoors.

There are many dynamics at play against us here, but I am convinced that with a genuine, united effort by those of us who care, these unacceptable, culturally suicidal trends can be reversed.

I recently wrapped up a cross-country musical tour where I met with an average of six to 20 (or more) hunting enthusiasts per night for 42 nights in 38 different cities.

Coupled with the last 50 years of doing the same for 6,756 concerts, I can assure you that I have met with and listened to more hunting families face to face and up close and personal, than maybe any human that has ever lived.

First and foremost on everyone’s mind are the mind-numbing volumes of nonsensical regulations that literally scare sporters en masse out of the sport. Would-be hunters are scared to death of getting busted for such ridiculous arbitrary rules as bow case and gun case laws.

It has been stated many, many times that the average state hunting and fishing regulation booklets are so voluminous and confusing, oftentimes illogically contradictory, that one would require a team of wildlife specialist lawyers to translate them for us.

And we would still get in trouble!

We all need to relentlessly hammer our elected employees and state and federal game departments to demand a major overhaul of state-by-state and federal hunting regulations to simplify the rules, which ought to address safety and wildlife management 101, and nothing else.

Hunting and fishing regulations should make the activities as attractive and simple as possible, and what works in one state should be the model for all states.

Wildlife biology does not change at some mysterious line between regions. Habitat and population dynamics, along with annual game counts should dictate harvest rates and policy. Period.

If you are sick and tired of bureaucrats wasting our hard-earned tax dollars hiring so called “sharpshooters” to kill our deer, bear, elk, cougars and wolves for us, start that essential, American, activist fire in your deer-hunting world to demand accountability and fairness in our sport.

The list of absurd rules and regulations ruining our sport across the country would take up an entire “Gone with the Wind” tome, and we all know what they are.

Fire up your fellow sporters to get engaged with the We-the-People, do-or-die political process. Do it now!

Visit us at HunterNation.org to unite and galvanize the most powerful voting force in America: the licensed hunting families of the United States.

Are you a wimp on the sidelines? Or are you a real American in that swirling dust in the arena?

Let’s get it on.

Michigan’s Ted Nugent is an award-winning musician and writer, with numerous best-seller books including “Ted, White and Blue: The Nugent Manifesto,” “God, Guns and Rock n’ Roll,” and “Kill It and Grill It.”

*And may I add, that I could not agree more, …and don’t get me started. You…?

Posted by Michael Patrick McCarty

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Now That You Have My Attention…! – Rattlesnakes Ahead

 

A Prairie Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis) Coiled and Ready To Strike In Northwestern Colorado. Photograph By Michael Patrick McCarty

Locked And Loaded. Photograph By Michael Patrick McCarty

 

Very few sounds heard in the wildlands of North America can completely capture your full and unmitigated attention like that unmistakable vibration of a rattlesnake in waiting. I located that sound recently while on a scouting trip for Pronghorn in Northwestern Colorado, emanating steadily from a clump of low hanging sage not very far from my feet. And to be honest, I can still hear it today, bouncing between my ears among the technicolor memories of my mind.

In this case the source of that infamous buzz was about two feet of Crotalus viridis, commonly known as the Prairie Rattlesnake. Yet no matter the name, or the size, of one thing there was no doubt. This snake meant business from the business end, and I wanted no part of that transaction. My guess is that it would have really preferred to skip the encounter too, though perfectly willing to do as it must. He is but a snake, after all.

Prairie Rattlesnakes are the most common Rattlesnake in Colorado, and they seem to be particularly prevalent in the areas that I frequent. This was the second live close encounter (others being found dead in the road) that I have had in as many years; the first I would have surely stepped on had it not been good enough to slither off of the trail when it sensed me coming. Before these interactions you could say that I had never worried too much about snakebite.

I do now!

The available literature seems to indicate that maximum length for a Prairie Rattlesnake in Colorado is about 3 1/2 feet, although there are mentions of much bigger snakes in the historical record. I did listen to a first hand account of a five foot or better snake killed in my hunting area just this summer, and I have no reason to doubt the source. Nobody really knows their population parameters and distributions. Fact is, there are a lot of rattlesnakes about the land, and apparently they can be…big.

Enough said!

Antelope hunters, and bowhunters in particular, should be well enough aware of that stark reality. Blinds on waterholes are often the preferred method of hunting with short range weapons. These locations are also preferred by the wildlife of the area, both large, and small. And snakes…

Temperatures, particularly at night, are warm; the little creatures, and the rattlesnakes that prey upon them, are active. Put it all together and it can easily spell some trouble of the bad kind for the bowhunter hurrying to the ambush point in the low light of early morning.

Still, snakebites are uncommon, and fatalities are rarer. “Out of the millions of people who live in Colorado and the millions more who visit the state for outdoor activities, only 79 were bitten by snakes last year (2017), said Shireen Banerji, a Rocky Mountain Poison & Drug Center clinical manager. The number of bites has been increasing slightly. There were 77 in 2016, 76 in 2015 and 65 in 2014. Only one person is known to have died of a snakebite since 2014”.

So, in summary, a quick tap of fangs may not kill you and dry bites are possible, but you can be fairly certain of one thing. It will be a more than unpleasant experience, and most likely a medically significant and tissue altering event. Antivenom and emergency treatment can be very expensive, resulting in what may be a financially devastating hospital bill at the end of the day, or week.

Best to avoid that possibility as much as you can. Be aware, snake aware, and ready.

You might also want to invest in a good pair of snake boots, or snake chaps, and a much brighter headlamp. Or perhaps even better, always let someone else go first, like your long time hunting partner.

Just kidding!

Good Hunting!

By Michael Patrick McCarty

 

You Can Read More About The Prairie Rattlesnake Here And Here

 

*Update September 28, 2019

It happened again, another rattlesnake close encounter, that is, and I can breathlessly report that it was no less attention grabbing than the first. For some reason which entirely escapes me, I am this year a first class rattlesnake attractor of the third kind. It is a badge of honor that I would much rather do without.

Early afternoon found me trudging down an abandoned two-track river road under an all-seeing, withering sun, en route to a promising looking catfish hole down in a deep, wild canyon.

Intent on my catfishing mission, a small whisper in the back of my mind alerted me to danger ahead as I approached a particularly tall patch of thick weeds covering the road. Call it a sixth sense, or perhaps my last encounter was still too fresh upon my mind, but everything about the place cried “snake!”.

I remember thinking that I was simply overreacting, for the chance of finding a rattlesnake camped out in this one small patch of forlorn vegetation in the middle of a vast, desolate landscape had to be very, very slim. It also suddenly hit me that in my haste to find a fish I had left a perfectly fine pair of snake chaps (for fang protection when it’s already too late) in the back of my truck, along with my camera (to document chance wildlife encounters so someone may believe me), and oh yes, my mostly unreliable but somewhat comforting cell phone in case I was ever bitten by a venomous creature in a land far, far from help (so you can throw it at the thing that bit you after it does not work).

 

A Large Black Widow Spider Walks Hurriedly Through The Gravel In Western Colorado. Photograph By Michael Patrick McCarty

A Black Widow Spider On the Move. As if Rattlesnakes Are Not Enough To Worry About! Photo By Michael Patrick McCarty

 

Yikes!

So, as you might guess, I was particularly watchful of where I placed my feet along the trail, as I occasionally slapped the undergrowth  ahead with the tip of my fishing rod.

And of course, you have probably surmised by now what was about to happen next. Staring down across the tops of my boots not very far from the end of my nose, I soon saw the plump, round body of a rather large snake stretched out at the base of the weed stalks, and then, at the end of the rainbow, so to speak, those infamous and unmistakable Prairie rattles.

Backing away slowly, quietly, I completed my retreat as he disappeared like a slithering apparition, and we will never know who was more happy about that. Human-Snake interactions can end rather badly for the snake too, after all. Where he went next only a rattler knows; where I was headed suddenly looked more distant and treacherous than I had pictured. But go I did, albeit ever more mindfully.

Most importantly, I had catfish to catch.

And thank God for guardian angels, and that I had enough sense, snake sense, to listen, and to follow just a little bit of my own advice. I shutter to think what would have happened, had I taken, just one more step.

Be Careful Out There!

By Michael Patrick McCarty

 

A Desolate Canyon On The Yampa River In Northwestern Colorado. Photograph By Michael Patrick McCarty

 

The Indescribable Beauty Of Adventure, And Danger. Photo By Michael Patrick McCarty

 

Legal Status

Hunting Season Dates For The Prairie Rattlesnake in Colorado is June 15 thru August 15 annually; a small game license is required. The daily bag limit is 3 snakes, with a possession limit of 6.

It is my understanding that it is legal to kill rattlesnakes when necessary to protect life or property (if they pose a real threat).

Translation: You can’t kill them just because you don’t like them – or something to that effect.

*Statute 33-6-107(9) and Wildlife Commission Regulations (WCR) 312(C), WCR 323, WCR 1000(A)(6), WCR 17122(C),
WCR 17123(A) & WCR 17141(A)

**This statute does appear to apply to personal property.

RMEF Completes 12,000th Conservation Project

 

In RMEF at Work by RMEF

MISSOULA, Mont.—A recent thinning treatment designed to enhance wildlife habitat in New Mexico marks the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s 12,000th lifetime conservation project.

“This milestone is a credit to our volunteers, members, partners and all others who support our mission,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “Without them we simply could not do what we do to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.”

The project took place in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and New Mexico Department of Game and Fish on BLM-managed land approximately 120 miles southwest of Albuquerque. Crews used chainsaws to remove pinion and junipers encroaching into grasslands, meadows, canyon bottoms and established mature tree stands.

Such encroachment blocks the growth of diverse natural forage for elk, mule deer and other wildlife. It also triggers soil erosion and watershed impairment.

“The Pelona Mountain area is a region we are very familiar with,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “Dating back to 1994, RMEF worked with our partners to carry out 15 different projects there including thinning, prescribed burns and the construction and repair of wildlife water developments.”

The projects benefitted nearly 21,000 acres of wildlife habitat within Game Management Unit 16E, an area used for hunting and other recreational activities.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

Founded 35 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of nearly 235,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 7.5 million acres for elk and other wildlife. RMEF also works to open and improve public access, fund and advocate for science-based resource management, and ensure the future of America’s hunting heritage. Discover why “Hunting Is Conservation™” at rmef.orgelknetwork.com or 800-CALL ELK.

 

You can see the original press release, as well as a video Here.

The Bull of John Plute – An Elk of History & Epic Proportions

The John Plute Bull. A former Boone Crockett World Record Elk. Found now hanging at the Crested Butte, Colorado Chamber of Commerce
A Legend in Elk Genetics; A Dark Canyon Monarch. Photo by David Massender

 

By Michael Patrick McCarty

…An elk bugle echoes down and around us in the half-light of early morning, as the towering walls of Dark Canyon take over the skyline. The high, whistling notes are nearly overcome by the falls above, the waters now airborne, flying from the cliffs towards Anthracite Creek. We catch our breath as we climb up the Devil’s Staircase, towards the great unknowns of the Ruby Range and the perils of the Ragged Mountains…

No, this is not the scene of some campy, dramatic flick, as mysterious and foreboding as it may sound. But it was the backdrop, with some poetic license included, of a monumental event in the big game hunting world. It is here, in 1899, that John Plute of Crested Butte, Colorado looked down his rifle barrel and laid down one of the largest set of elk antlers ever recorded.

He has quite a history, this bull, and I can only imagine that his story only survives because of luck and some divine providence. It is said that Mr. Plute was a good hunter, and he often traded wild game for the goods that he needed. More than likely, he was usually not too concerned about the size of a bull’s headgear. Perhaps, in this case, he was.

He was also known to be a colorful character. An inveterate bachelor, a miner, and a mountain man, he traded the head to the local saloon keeper in payment of an overdue bar bill. It later passed to the stepson of the saloon owner, who dragged it out of storage and submitted the first unofficial measurement of its antlers in 1955.

The formalities took a little longer yet, until it was officially recognized by the Boone and Crockett Club as the new World’s Record Elk in 1961, The final score came in at a jaw-dropping 442 3/8 points.

Photographs simply don’t convey the magnificence of this specimen, and you can barely fit it within the view finder anyway. In person it is very nearly overwhelming, and it takes some time to evaluate its true size as the eye struggles to gain perspective.

The rack at its greatest spread tapes at over 51 inches, with 7 points on one side and 8 points on the other. One antler has a basal circumference of over 12 inches, and two points are more than 25 inches long. When first mounted many years after the kill, it was fitted with the biggest elk cape to be found. It was probably not quite big enough.

I have been fortunate to hunt some of the nation’s top trophy areas, and I have come across some big bulls in my time. A 325″ class bull is bigger than many elk hunters will ever encounter; a 350″ elk will really get your attention. I have yet to ground check a Boone and Crockett class elk, though it has not been for lack of trying.

Once, on a Colorado bowhunt, I very nearly harvested a bull that most certainly was approaching that magical 400 point plateau. The memory of that guy can still keep me up at night, and I doubt that I will ever forget the sense of awe he installed within me. I can hardly imagine another 40 or 50 inches of bone on top of his skull.

The Plute bull was the World Record for over 30 years, and many thought that it would never be beaten. The glory days of elk hunting appeared to be long gone, after all, …or were they?

In 1995, the elk hunting world shook once more when an antler buyer purchased a head that he had seen in the back of a pickup truck. Killed by an Arizona cattle rancher in 1968 and never measured, it was eventually determined to be bigger than the bull of Crested Butte. Even then, it only beat out the existing world record by less than 1/2″ of total score.

Obviously, Mr. Plute never knew just how big his elk really was. It does not sound that it would have mattered much to him anyway, though I probably should not speak as if I know. Very little has been passed down about his everyday doings, or his end.  Some have said that he died while breaking a spirited horse; others have said that no one really knows. Perhaps the truth of his ultimate fate is lost upon the winds and snow fields of the wild lands that he roamed, like many men of his era. In my way of thinking that only adds another layer to the legend, and to the mysterious nature of a place that once held a bull such as this.

It is impossible to know the full extent of this elk’s legacy. No doubt his genetics still warms the blood of his countless descendants, banked for the day when they can fully express their immeasurable potential. Who knows how many elk like him, have lived, and died, without being seen?

The head now hangs at The Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce, which might seem an ignominious end to such an important animal. Perhaps it may not be the best place to honor him, but I do not get to make that kind of choice. For most, he is a curiosity and a fine tourist attraction, though I doubt that the uninitiated can grasp its true significance.  For my part I am grateful for the opportunity to admire him in any way that I can.

The Dark Canyon of Anthracite Creek has yet to hit my eyes for real, but it will. I am drawn to it, curious too, and my hunter’s eye wants to see what it will see. Hunt there, I will,  just to say that I did. I hope that John Plute would approve.

Most of all, I would like to think that a giant elk like him still roams those mountains. In my dreams I see him there, hanging back in the dark timber just out of reach of mortal men, suspended on the edge of time and the longing of hunter’s soul.

See you out there!

 

The John Plute Boone & Crockett World Record Bull Elk. Now Found at The Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce in Colorado
A Proud Achievement. Mount On Display At The Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce

 

By Michael Patrick McCarty

 

“All the sounds of this valley run together into one great echo, a song that is sung by all the spirits of this valley. Only a hunter hears it”. – Chaim Potok, I Am The Clay, 1992

 

You Might Also Like The World Record Stag of the Woodlands, About Bowhunting For Woodland Caribou.

 

If you would like to read more about trophy elk and mule deer, we suggest that you acquire a copy of Colorado’s Biggest Bucks and Bulls, by Jack and Susan Reneau. We generally have a copy or two in stock. Feel free to Email us at huntbook1@gmail.com for a price quote and other details.

 

The Legal Do’s And Don’ts Of Wireless Trail Cameras

Kyocera Brigadier Cell Phone

To Cell Or Not To Cell, That Is The Question. Photo By Michael Patrick McCarty

 

Use them, or not. Love them, or not. Game trail cameras have revolutionized the way hunter’s hunt. It didn’t take long.

They can be extremely effective in pinpointing and patterning game, and they can provide visual insights into your hunting area that are not possible through other means. The results are often eye-opening; the entire process can be fascinating, and fun. Proper use can greatly increase the odds of success.

All things considered, it would be safe to say that game trail cameras, in one form or another,  are here to stay.

The fairly recent advent of “Wireless” or “Live Action Cameras”, on the other hand, present an entirely new set of considerations, both practical, and ethical. It may take some serious contemplation to sort them all out.

Standard trail cameras collect and store images on a SD, or Secure Digital Card, which requires a periodic visit to the camera location to retrieve or download the images on the card.

Wireless technologies allow for the transmission of images from single or multiple cameras directly to a cell phone or computer in real time , without the necessity of a physical visit. It is also now possible to create a wireless mesh network consisting of multiple trail cameras, which can then transmit their images to a single SD card on a “Home Camera”. This allows a hunter to source all images from a single collection point, rather than visiting each camera location over an area of several square miles.

Ethical considerations aside, and tabling the issue of Drones, for now, Wireless Cameras can provide real “on the ground” benefits. Once installed, the system greatly reduces the number of intrusions into an animal’s home range, and perhaps most importantly, the disturbing presence of human sound, or scent.

Fish and Game regulations are unique to each state across the country, and each can choose to address, or not address, the issue of Standard and “Live Action” game cameras as they see fit. It does appear that some states have been slow to react, though, in some cases, it may be that available technology has moved so fast that the appropriate agencies have simply not had time to catch up.

Wherever you hunt, the first question you might wish to ask of those who know is: Are trail cameras, particularly “Camera to cell phone, or computer capable” cameras, legal? The answer may be more complicated, and confusing, than you might think.

A quick look at the regulations for my state, found in the Colorado Parks and Wildlife 2019 Big Game Brochure, for example, lists under Illegal Activities, #4, page 14:

“It is illegal to …Use the Internet or other computer-assisted remote technology while hunting or fishing. This includes unmanned or remote-control drones used to look for wildlife. Hunters and anglers must be physically present in the immediate vicinity while hunting and fishing”.

Clear as mud, right?

A call to the headquarters of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Office left me even more bewildered, after a customer service representative informed me that live action cameras were legal except during the hunting seasons, when all cameras must be removed.

Really?

Truth is, rules governing the use of all game trail cameras in Colorado can be found in The Code of Colorado Regulations, Department of Natural Resources, Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

The issue is specifically addressed in Chapter W-O-General Provisions 2CCR 406-0; Article IV – Manner of Taking Wildlife, #004 – Aids In Taking Wildlife; Section 3, Other Aids; Section E., Live-Action Game Cameras.

It reads:

““Live-Action Game Camera” means any device capable of recording and transmitting photographic or video data wirelessly to a remote device, such as a computer or smart phone. “Live-action game camera” does not include game cameras that merely record photographic or video data and store such data for later use, as long as the device cannot transmit data wirelessly.”

It also states:

“No person shall use a live-action camera to locate, surveil, or aid or assist in any attempt to locate or surveil any game wildlife for the purpose of taking or attempting to take said wildlife during the same day or following day.”

The question is, what exactly does all of that mean?

For one thing, it is clear that the use of standard trail cameras are legal throughout the year, including the hunting seasons, because the device stores images on a SD card and does not transmit data wirelessly.

Enough said.

That all changes when the camera can transmit data wirelessly. Surprisingly, (at least to me) this also applies to the use of a mesh network of cameras that tie in to a home camera with a SD Card. Even though the images on this type of network are not transmitted to a cell phone or computer, the network cameras collect and compile their images and then send their data to the home camera and it’s SD Card “wirelessly”, and therefore would be subject to the “same day or following day” provision.

With this being said, it is obvious that a “live action” camera can be used during the hunting season in Colorado. It would then be the timing of the hunt, after the receipt of downloaded, or collected images, that becomes the issue.

I have heard it said, for example, that one could not hunt for 48 hours after receiving an image of wildlife on your live action camera. At first look that reads about right, but actually… no.

The regulation states that you could not take or attempt to take wildlife during the same day or following day, which means that depending on the timing, could be much less than a 48 hour period.

For the sake of argument, let’s say, an animal could show up on your trail camera at one minute to midnight, which means that one could not hunt for the remaining minute of that day. A hunter would then need to wait out the next full day, and then could legally hunt the early morning of the day after that. In that scenario, one could hunt about 30 hours or so after the “surveillance” of game.

The timing of your hunt can also become tag specific, which means that you should be very aware of any “wildlife” that you may legally harvest with whatever tags you have in your pocket. “No person shall use a live-action camera to locate, surveil, or aid or assist in any attempt to locate or surveil any game wildlife for the purpose of taking or attempting to take said wildlife during the same day or following day” covers an amazing amount of unplanned contingencies.

Should you find yourself anxiously prepping to hunt a particular bull elk, for example, keep in mind that the waiting period required by the “same day or following day requirement” provision would change if a cow elk traveled by that same camera at a later hour, and you held an either sex elk tag. You might not, then, legally, be able to harvest that bull at that time.

I can easily think of several other potential conflicts with the regulations, but for now what I can simply say is that “gray areas” abound when it comes to the use of Live Action Game Cameras. The speculations, in fact, could go on forever, and possible infractions in the field may or not be easily defensible.

Perhaps in the end, my first contact at Colorado Parks and Wildlife was more right than he knew. At the very least it may not be a risk that you are willing to take, as game law violations have become an ever more serious matter.

Depending on your state regulations, it may in fact be much smarter to remove all wireless cameras from your hunting area during the hunting season. It would be far less confusing, and much more preferable than the possibility of staring directly into the investigative barrel of the courts and justice system.

We shall save a look at the ethical considerations…for another time!

Good Hunting!

By Michael Patrick McCarty

You May Also Wish to See Live Action Game Cameras – A Slippery Slope?

or, Common Sense Hunting Reform

 

We Would Love To Hear About Your State Game Laws And Your Experiences With Wireless Cameras.

 

The Browning Command Ops Pro Game Trail Camera. Photograph By Michael Patrick McCarty

A Journal of Wild Game, Fighting Fish, and Grand Pursuit